Tarantula on Film
To coincide with the exhibition Tarantula(s): Bob Dylan’s Novel Revisited at The Woody Guthrie Center, The Bob Dylan Archive will present a parallel series of films, including a rare public screening of Bob Dylan’s directorial debut Eat the Document (1972).
Attempting to capture the spirit, trace out the influences and provide insight into the writing of what is surely the most curious book ever written by a Nobel Prize winning writer, this series features short, experimental, works by the likes of Robert Frank, Red Grooms, Ken Jacobs, William S. Burroughs, readings by poets Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and unseen footage from The Bob Dylan Archive.
Program 2, July 29. 2 p.m. at the Woody Guthrie Center Theater. The program is included with paid admission to the Center.
USA: Poetry: Michael McClure
Dir. Richard O. Moore, 1966, 10 minutes
Excerpted from the public television program USA: Poetry, this portrait of Michael McClure captures him at his mid-1960s peak talking aphoristically about writing, creating spontaneous poems with filmmaker Bruce Conner and, as a finale, reading his Ghost Tantras to a captive audience—lions in the San Francisco Zoo.
John Lennon Reads From “In His Own Write” and “A Spaniard In the Works”
BBC-TV, 1964-65, 5 minutes
The impetus for a major publisher to offer Bob Dylan a contract to write a book had some precedent in the success of two books written by John Lennon, both of which are of a comic, personal and poetic nature. In these clips from the BBC archive, Lennon talks candidly about writing and reads excerpts from “In His Own Write” (1964) and “A Spaniard In The Works” (1965).
Bob Dylan: San Francisco Press Conference December 3, 1965
KQED-TV, 1965, 51 minutes
When Bob Dylan’s five concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area were scheduled in December 1965, the idea was proposed that he hold a press conference in the studios of KQED, an educational television station. Dylan agreed in what became his first (and only) press conference televised in its entirety. Attending that day were reporters from three metropolitan dailies, representatives from several high school newspapers, Allen Ginsberg, legendary concert promoter Bill Graham, photographer Jim Marshall and poet Michael McClure. What transpired was an improvised Theater of the Absurd as Dylan, in good humor throughout, pontificates on the meaning of his songs, the burgeoning protest movement and the nature of celebrity.
Dir. Red Grooms and Mimi Gross, 1966, 19 minutes
Described by its directors as “a city symphony, with living comic strip characters and sound pixelated and animated. . . a day in the life of Nervous City. . .”. New York painter and filmmaker Red Grooms had a profound impact on Dylan’s writing in this period as discussed by Dylan himself in his 2004 autobiography Chronicles: “I loved the way everything he did crushed itself into some fragile world, the rickety clusters of parts all packed together and then, standing back, you could see the complex whole of it. . . what the folk songs were lyrically, Red’s songs were visually—all the bums and cops, the lunatic bustle, all the carnie vitality. He incorporated every living thing into something and made it scream—everything side by side and created equal. . . Subconsciously, I was wondering if it was possible to write songs like that. “